Court explains ruling allowing vote on light rail initiative

PHOENIX (AP/FOX 10) -- The Arizona Supreme Court has rejected a contractors group's argument that a ballot measure to halt the expansion of Phoenix's light rail system should be kept off an August election ballot because of how people were paid to collect voter signatures on initiative petitions.

The Supreme Court's opinion Wednesday explained the legal reasoning behind a June 12 ruling allowing the measure to be placed on the ballot.

The opinion said an Arizona prohibition on paying collectors by the signature applies only to statewide ballot measures, not local ones.

The justices also rejected arguments by the Arizona chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America that the initiative description's wording was flawed.

"We expected this," said Chuck Coughlin, spokesperson for Invest in Phoenix. "We made a couple claims with regard to the initiative. Court didn't agree. We're prepared to go on with the campaign and execute on the messages, and we're confident the voters will support light rail."

If voters approved the measure, any planned rail extensions will be stopped and funds will go to other transportation projects.

Byron Waldrep, manager of Pete's Fish and Chips, is hopeful the train doesn't come down in front of his restaurant in Central Avenue, heading towards South Phoenix.

"Over 150 businesses will be out of business, including my own," said Waldrep.

One thing both sides can agree on is that voters might be confused by what a "Yes" and a "No" vote means in the election.

According to the ballot language, a "Yes" vote means no more expansion, while a "No" means actually means yes, in that construction of the light rail will continue.

"You would think the 'No' vote would stop it. 'No, we don't want it'. That's kind of misleading to the voters, I would believe in that way," said Waldrep.

"We've seen it in our polling data, about 5-10% confusion," said Coughlin. "That's our job as a campaign that you understand what 'Yes' and 'No' means."